Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Yu Jian

The Beer Bottle-top

unsure how to address it     it was still sitting at the head of the table only a moment ago

the custodian of a bottle of stout     absolutely indispensable     it has a sense of its own status

signifying conviviality as the sun goes down     and the depth of froth in a glass

opened with a pop at the start of the evening meal     the action strikingly similar to that of a bullfrog

the waiter even believes that it really is a frog

believes that something on this table covered with cooked food has unexpectedly been brought back to life

he is vexed by his misunderstanding     and immediately shifts his attention to a toothpick

he is the last one     after him     the world gives it no further thought

with no other entries on it in the dictionary     no original meanings extended meanings transferred meanings

but those dishes originally arranged in submission before it     signify nothing less than the flavours of Sichuan cuisine

the napkin is touched by the hand of a general     the roses in full bloom     an allusion to privilege

in an eccentric arc it exited this gathering     an arc not its own

the brewery     never designed such a line for its product

it now lies on the floor with the cigarette butts     footprints     bones and other rubbish

an unrelated jumble     an impromptu design     of no use to anyone

but its plight is even more wretched     a butt reminds the world of a slob

a bone brings to mind a dog or a cat     and footprints of course allude to a human presence

it is waste     its whiteness being nothing more than its whiteness     and its shape nothing more than its shape

it falls beyond the reach of our adjectives

I wasn’t a drinker then     it was I who opened the bottle of beer

and for this reason I noticed its strange leap     its simple disappearance

I suddenly tried to imagine the pop it made     jumping out into space     but was unable to

mine was the body of an author of a collection of poetry and sixty kilograms of corporeal existence

all I did was bend down     and pick up this alluring small white object

it was hard     with a serrated rim     which cut into my finger

and made me feel a sharpness so unlike that of knives



1991

THE BEER BOTTLE-TOP

Close

The Beer Bottle-top

unsure how to address it     it was still sitting at the head of the table only a moment ago

the custodian of a bottle of stout     absolutely indispensable     it has a sense of its own status

signifying conviviality as the sun goes down     and the depth of froth in a glass

opened with a pop at the start of the evening meal     the action strikingly similar to that of a bullfrog

the waiter even believes that it really is a frog

believes that something on this table covered with cooked food has unexpectedly been brought back to life

he is vexed by his misunderstanding     and immediately shifts his attention to a toothpick

he is the last one     after him     the world gives it no further thought

with no other entries on it in the dictionary     no original meanings extended meanings transferred meanings

but those dishes originally arranged in submission before it     signify nothing less than the flavours of Sichuan cuisine

the napkin is touched by the hand of a general     the roses in full bloom     an allusion to privilege

in an eccentric arc it exited this gathering     an arc not its own

the brewery     never designed such a line for its product

it now lies on the floor with the cigarette butts     footprints     bones and other rubbish

an unrelated jumble     an impromptu design     of no use to anyone

but its plight is even more wretched     a butt reminds the world of a slob

a bone brings to mind a dog or a cat     and footprints of course allude to a human presence

it is waste     its whiteness being nothing more than its whiteness     and its shape nothing more than its shape

it falls beyond the reach of our adjectives

I wasn’t a drinker then     it was I who opened the bottle of beer

and for this reason I noticed its strange leap     its simple disappearance

I suddenly tried to imagine the pop it made     jumping out into space     but was unable to

mine was the body of an author of a collection of poetry and sixty kilograms of corporeal existence

all I did was bend down     and pick up this alluring small white object

it was hard     with a serrated rim     which cut into my finger

and made me feel a sharpness so unlike that of knives



1991

The Beer Bottle-top

unsure how to address it     it was still sitting at the head of the table only a moment ago

the custodian of a bottle of stout     absolutely indispensable     it has a sense of its own status

signifying conviviality as the sun goes down     and the depth of froth in a glass

opened with a pop at the start of the evening meal     the action strikingly similar to that of a bullfrog

the waiter even believes that it really is a frog

believes that something on this table covered with cooked food has unexpectedly been brought back to life

he is vexed by his misunderstanding     and immediately shifts his attention to a toothpick

he is the last one     after him     the world gives it no further thought

with no other entries on it in the dictionary     no original meanings extended meanings transferred meanings

but those dishes originally arranged in submission before it     signify nothing less than the flavours of Sichuan cuisine

the napkin is touched by the hand of a general     the roses in full bloom     an allusion to privilege

in an eccentric arc it exited this gathering     an arc not its own

the brewery     never designed such a line for its product

it now lies on the floor with the cigarette butts     footprints     bones and other rubbish

an unrelated jumble     an impromptu design     of no use to anyone

but its plight is even more wretched     a butt reminds the world of a slob

a bone brings to mind a dog or a cat     and footprints of course allude to a human presence

it is waste     its whiteness being nothing more than its whiteness     and its shape nothing more than its shape

it falls beyond the reach of our adjectives

I wasn’t a drinker then     it was I who opened the bottle of beer

and for this reason I noticed its strange leap     its simple disappearance

I suddenly tried to imagine the pop it made     jumping out into space     but was unable to

mine was the body of an author of a collection of poetry and sixty kilograms of corporeal existence

all I did was bend down     and pick up this alluring small white object

it was hard     with a serrated rim     which cut into my finger

and made me feel a sharpness so unlike that of knives



1991
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Prins Bernhard cultuurfonds
Lira fonds
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LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère